Movie Review: Ready or Not

Gory comedy-horror is destined to be a cult classic.

Ready or Not is not exactly making waves at the box office right now, but it’s destined to be a cult classic. And that’s clearly by design. The film flaunts its many influences—Agatha Christie, 80s shock satirist Paul Bartel, Jordan Peele’s Get Out, slasher films, and midnight screening mainstay The Rocky Horror Picture Show—rather flagrantly. What’s more, it’s filled with quotable one-liners, rococo bursts of violence, and fashion choices that beg to be turned into Halloween costumes. At one point, our heroine, Grace (Samara Weaving), finds herself in a tattered wedding dress, unlaced Chucks, a Rambo-style weapon belt, while holding a revolver. Trick or treat!

The premise is this: Grace has just married into the wealthy Le Domos family, who live in an enormous creepy mansion right out central casting. The Le Domos’ are eccentrics and snobs and seem like disastrous in-laws, but Grace has no idea the extent of their depravity. Generations ago, the family essentially made a deal with the devil to acquire their wealth and now they must make an occasional sacrifice to remain in good standing. The sacrifices are usually goats. But sometimes they’re…not. Grace is told that she has to play a game to be accepted into the fold. Little does she know how deadly this particular game will be.

The family is filled with broad archetypes—the deceptively warm mother (Andie MacDowell), the death-staring aunt with a fabulously severe silver bob (Nicky Guadagni), the dunderheaded father (Henry Czerny), the jaded older brother (Adam Brody) who has a gold-digging wife (Elyse Levesque), the cokehead sister (Melanie Scrofano), the skeptical outsider (Kristian Bruun), etc. As for Grace’s husband, Alex (Mark O’Brien), he appears to be the only normal one of the bunch.

Directors Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett have fun with the family, often shooting them through a fishbowl lens and emphasizing the cheerful normalcy with which they approach their macabre endeavor. But I wanted a little more of the family dynamic. I wanted more banter, more character development, more jokes that mocked the rich. Instead, the film seems more interested in over-the-top gore and violence than social satire.

Nonetheless, the performances are strong. Brody is particularly impressive as the louche, self-loathing brother and, as for Weaving, who bears an uncanny resemblance to Margot Robbie, this should be a star making performance. She deftly moves from blushing bride to let’s-get-this-over-with game-player to screaming victim and ultimately lands at a point of post-fear irony. It’s good stuff. So’s the film for the most part. Indeed, it’s so good I wish it were better.